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World Cup, here we come!

Football
 Young Starlets' Captain Elizabeth Ochaka lead her team in celebration after beating Burundi 2-0 during the second leg of the fourth round of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup qualifier against Burundi to be held at Ulinzi Complex. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

At last, Kenya will be playing at the football World Cup.

Well, it's not the creme de la creme tournament that comes after every four years, no. It's Fifa U-17 Women's World Cup.

Thanks to Junior Starlets, Kenya's Under-17 women's football team, the national anthem will be played alongside 15 other countries at the October 16 to November 3, 2024 tournament, which will be held in the Dominican Republic.

The girls have done what their big brothers Harambee Stars couldn't. Yes, they have accomplished what their big sisters Harambee Starlets could only dream of.

And they did it in style, winning 2-0 on Sunday (5-0 on aggregate) against a visiting Burundi side at the Ulinzi Sports Complex in Lang'ata.

The cheers and celebrations from fans inside the complex at the final whistle told of a nation that had been starved of joyous moments when it came to football. Never has this feeling been felt before, never.

For the players, the feeling was like none other. Some hugged, others bowed down in supplication. A few others stared in disbelief. For Velmar Auma, she covered her face, bowed down and kissed the ground. Their God had done it for them, at last.

Junior Starlets midfielder Marion Serenge and Valerie Nekesa ensured Kenya's safe passage to the coveted tournament with vital first half goals.

The team's head coach Mildred Cheche said the real job starts now.

"I'm glad the girls played their hearts out and qualified for the global competition. What I can say is that our job starts now because we have to prepare well and be ready for the tournament," Cheche said.

Starlets wowed the home crowd from the first whistle with the lethal attacking duo of Serenge and Nekesa surging forward in hunt for an opening goal.

The two proved to be a constant pain for the Burundians as they threatened to break their defence to the joy of Kenyans who kept cheering them on.

After several failed attempts, Serengeti finally got it right as she pounced on a lose ball after Burundi's Glris Gakiza and her goalkeeper Claira Nshrimimana collided. The goalkeeper was unable to hold onto the ball, and Serenge smiled as she tapped in. Kenya 1-0.

The Burundians intensified their hunt for an equaliser but the backline of captain Elizabeth Ochaka, Lorine Ilavonga Christine Adhiambo and Kimberly Akinyi would not let them have their way.

Keen to accomplish their mission, Starlets could not let their opponents recover as Nekesa netted the second goal. And with that, Kenya will be paying at the World Cup.

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